On Wednesday, the UAE's Prime Minister and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid kicked off the country’s first space programme with a plan to send four UAE national astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) within the next five years.

"On this day, a new chapter in our history begins with the launch of the first UAE Astronaut Programme, dedicated to sending four Emirati Astronauts into space. The people of the UAE will break new barriers; nothing can stand in the way of those who believe nothing is impossible," Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement on his official Twitter account.

"Our ambitious goals are fuelled by dedicated people, who support us until, without hesitation or skepticism, we succeed. I invite young Emiratis to register for the UAE Astronaut Programme through the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre," he added

Sheikh Mohammed's last tweet on the subject read: "The most competitive applicants will be selected to be ambassadors for the UAE in space exploration. However, every single Emirati will contribute in his or her own way to the future of the UAE, whether it’s on land, or in the skies."

The UAE is actively participating in global space exploration, investing in science programs to help serve national interests in the future, and exploring the prospects of human life in space, including the possibility of inhabiting other planets.

The UAE Astronauts Programme is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre initiative and is dedicated to selecting and training ambitious and successful Emiratis in space exploration. 

The programme will support the UAE's mission to become a hub for the space sector in the region and to establish itself as a global leader in space exploration over the next 50 years.

The top students will be screened before four Emirati astronauts are selected to form the UAE's Astronaut Team. To share knowledge and experience with other global astronauts, the four individuals will join the ISS on the first ever UAE space mission.

For the greater benefit of mankind, the astronauts are expected to enhance the UAE's achievements in the space sector by undertaking scientific experiments within an integrated project aimed at exploring biology and ways of adapting living organisms in non-terrestrial environments.

Source: Zawya

Emirates Mission to Mars

The four astronaut's trip to the International Space Station will mark the first step in the UAE's journey in space exploration.

The first Arab in outer space was Saudi Arabia's Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, who flew on a US shuttle mission in 1985. Two years later, Syrian air force pilot Muhammed Faris spent a week aboard the ex-Soviet Union's Mir space station.

The Emirates Mission to Mars will be the first probe sent to the planet by an Arab country and signals the growing interest in space exploration by the UAE.

How can you apply to represent the UAE in space?

According to Gulf News, you can apply if you fit the following criteria:

  • Nationality: Emirati
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: Proficiency in Arabic and English
  • Education: University Graduate (Bachelors or Higher)

Other requirements:

Astronauts should be fit and in good health to ensure they are able to fly to space. They should also be team players and should be capable of carrying out missions and experiments required while they are the UAE’s representative in space.

  • Documents required:
  • Personal Photo
  • Passport Copy
  • Family Book Copy
  • Emirates ID Copy
  • Birth Certificate
  • Academic Certificates
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Language proficiency Certificates (TOEFL/IELTS), if available.

Aspiring Emirati astronauts who apply for the programme will go through a rigorous vetting procedure, with finalists given months of specialized training before the last four are selected.

WATCH: Incredible 360 degree footage of the UAE's vision for a 2117 colony on Mars

Here is how social media reacted to the announcement:

People from across the GCC were quick to offer their help and support...

Many expressed pride...

"...the first FEMALE astronaut..."

Countless 'congratulations' soon followed...

Someone asked this important question...